Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo announced his retirement on Wednesday, ending a 19-year career that was one of the longest by a goaltender in NHL history.
“This is one of the toughest decisions I’ve faced in my life and it took me a long time to make it,” Luongo said in a letter posted on the Panthers’ website. “After thinking about it a lot over the past two months and listening to my body, I made up my mind. It just feels like the right time for me to step away from the game.”
Luongo, 40, added that the work needed to stay healthy — particularly since he had hip surgery in the summer of 2016 — became “overwhelming.”
“It’s not that I don’t love playing hockey anymore, but I had to listen to my body,” he wrote. “I’m at the point where my body was telling me it just needed a rest. It didn’t really want to get going.”
Luongo spent 10-plus seasons with the Panthers, including five seasons from 2000-06 and five-plus since returning via trade from the Vancouver Canucks in March 2014. He is comfortably the franchise’s all-time leader in wins (230) and shutouts (38) while ranking second in save percentage (.919) and fourth in games played (572).
Luongo also spent one year with the New York Islanders (1999-2000), who drafted him fourth overall in 1997, and seven-plus with the Canucks (2006-14). In 2010-11, he led the NHL in wins (38) and won the William M. Jennings Trophy as the Canucks allowed the fewest goals in the NHL and reached the Stanley Cup Final.
He finishes his career with a 489-392-124 record, a .919 save percentage and a 2.52 goals-against average in 1,044 appearances, with the latter figure trailing only Martin Brodeur (1,266) for most ever by an NHL goaltender. Luongo ranks third in career wins behind only Brodeur and Patrick Roy.
Luongo never won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender, but he was a Vezina and Hart Trophy runner-up in 2006-07. He also has two Olympic gold medals (2010 and 2014) from his time playing for Canada.
—Field Level Media